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Wednesday, 7 April 1971

Senator GREENWOOD - The question asked by the honourable senator, together with similar questions raised by honourable senators in the last week, covers matters which are primarily within the province of the State governments. Hospitals are subject, to State government legislation and the State governments primarily are responsible for their financing. However, the Commonwealth is involved in 2 major ways. The first is that the Commonwealth has an arrangement with the States by which financial assistance grants are given to them. One can only expect, as a result of what the Premiers said after the successful Premiers Conference this week, that the States will find that their revenue problems for this current year are not as difficult as they were expecting them to be before that conference. I am not in a position to say how the State governments will apply their moneys but it may mean that the position of the hospitals in South Australia and the other States will be alleviated. The other way in which the Commonwealth is involved is through the hospital benefits scheme and the various Commonwealth benefits which help the hospitals to alleviate their costs. As I informed the Senate last week, this is an area under review in the Department. I hope that within a short time there will be an announcement by the Government as to what is proposed, but it is not to be taken from what I have said that any announcement is imminent. The matter currently is under review following the Nimmo Committee recommendations of over a year ago and I hope that there will be an early announcement of what the Government is proposing.

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